You know, that feeling that you aren’t being enough, making enough, posting enough, shooting enough, eating well enough, playing with your kids enough? It’s flat out exhausting! I’m here to tell you this: Enough is enough. Balancing motherhood with your photography business shouldn’t feel so hard.
Like so many others, I started my photography business after my daughter was born. My love and passion for her ignited my passion to remember, and photography became my way to remember. When I started photography as a business, it was solely for the purpose of making enough money to fund new gear. But as time went on, I felt a growing desire to photograph other families, in addition to my own. My client base grew. And, as lovely as all of this sounds, it wasn’t without a cost. I was not at all prepared for what being a work-at-home and stay-at-home mom would be like.
By the time my second child was born, I was about ready to hang up my camera. I didn’t have enough time to practice or develop my art. I constantly felt torn between my kids and work. I missed being with my children but was afraid my business would suffer if I didn’t keep up the pace. It’s no surprise that everything was only done half as well as I’d have liked. This only caused more stress.
I was burnt out from burning the candle at both ends. I was also pretty sure my husband wanted his not-so-stressed-out wife back. I was constantly feeling like I couldn’t reach the goals I wanted so badly to obtain, both in my career and as a wife and mother. So, I took a step back. I re-evaluated myself, my marriage, my mothering and my work. I’m going to share a few things that helped bring me back to sanity when being a mom photographer seemed so impossible.
1. Learn how to say no.
Just say no. Seems simple right? Well, in theory I suppose it is, but if you are anything like I was (and still am sometimes) you find it hard to do. Blame it on the people pleaser in me, but I just hated letting people down. I was also afraid to miss an ideal client or a connection with someone. I never wanted to say no.
But really, if I had said no to taking on so many sessions or answering emails instead of going to the park or editing into the wee hours of the morning, I wouldn’t ACTUALLY have let anyone down in the grand scheme of things. I ran myself ragged and started resenting the things I said yes to when I had no business doing so.
Next time you are tempted to say yes to an extended family session, for example (even though you loathe them and don’t offer them as part of your photography business), just say no and pat yourself on the back.
I am a big believer in logging off social media and turning off that part of my brain when necessary. I am an anxious person by nature, so when my notifications were going off like crazy for every new private message or Instagram comment, I was living under constant self-imposed pressure to do something constantly. I always had this impending sense of urgency and couldn’t ever truly relax.
Simple solution? I turned off my notifications and voilà, simple as that I feel less pressure to always be doing.
I recommend completely staying off social media when you are feeling down, or are in the midst of the comparison game. You will never do better work if you are comparing yourself to someone else.
3. Practice self-love and self-care.
This seems simple, but to be honest, for me it is still the hardest thing. I need to force myself to allow a break. I started scheduling days and even weeks off a couple of years ago and it has been so good for me. I make sure to spend time at least once a week doing something for myself (usually it’s as simple as taking a bath) and that makes a world of difference.
As you know, you cannot pour from an empty cup. So, do what you need to in order to give your best to you family and work. When will you find the time? That’s the challenge: you need to MAKE the time. Dig into something that inspires you and lightens your mood, whether it be coffee alone, yoga or a pedicure.
4. Find a mom photographer friend or group.
It took me ages to find good friends to reach out to when I was feeling like I couldn’t juggle it all, but I am so glad I didn’t give up! I have some amazing in-person friends, but online communities are also such a valuable resource. I encourage you to put yourself out there.
I get it, putting yourself out there can be intimidating. But sharing authentically with others is really empowering and you will make real connections that way. I challenge you to share authentically within a group or your own page and see the responses. Other mom photographer friends will get what you are going through and the power of community is an amazing thing.
5. Let go of the idea of balance.
I think the final turning point for me has been to understand that there is honestly no such thing as balance. There are ups and downs and each season has it’s own benefits and downfalls. However, when you know that, you can take some pressure of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Really, truly, be kind. Allow yourself to experience and feel the ebbs and flows of life and business.
When you are caring for yourself, your kids, relationships and work will naturally fall into a better place. You got this mama. Everything is going to be alright.
All photos by Laura Frazier
Pssst… We know that being a mom photographer is a challenge. Whether you run a full-time business, a small side-hustle or are a serious hobbyist that just loves taking great photos of her kids or beautiful things, we’ve got a friend for you. You can come find us on Facebook and Pinterest too. We love connecting with other photographers!